Due to Rocksmith celebrating it’s 5th anniversary with an awesome concert at Slim’s in San Francisco, featuring big time Rocksmith players Myles Bristowe, Tim Porter and Audrey Shida. In order to celebrate this awesome game that every inspiring musician should try, I decided to chronicle my time with the game.
Now when I was younger, I always wanted to learn how to play guitar. It was mainly for selfish reasons, I saw the fame and fortune, the girls, the Rock Star life and thought in my 7 year-old brain “that’s the life for me.” Reality check came in when I attempted to learn acoustic guitar in school, I didn’t understand a single thing that I was doing.
The beginner’s song (according to our music teacher) was “Take it Easy” by The Eagles, giving us the Rhythm parts to learn the necessary cords. I’d like to believe that my little fingers at the time just couldn’t press the strings hard enough or warp my hands to be the cords that was needed to successfully play the song, but I think I just couldn’t read the tabs or wrap my head around them. While our music teacher did the best she could to tell me how to do this, in a class of 20 something students, there wasn’t enough 1 on 1 time for all of us, which affected my ability to learn.
My will to learn guitar diminished over the years due to not having any resources, or anyone to really help, then Rocksmith came along. Rocksmith was something new, a video game in the same veins as Guitar Hero or Rock Band, but playable with a real electric guitar that was plugged in to your console (or PC) via a USB tone cable. It was an idea that my friends and I had talked about while playing Rock Band or Guitar Hero (“Wouldn’t be awesome if we actually learned our instruments and started a band!” Frequently said at every music game night party.) Now it was a reality thanks to Ubisoft San Francisco, and it was instantly on my watch list.
While I picked up the original game with the guitar bundle, it wasn’t until Rocksmith 2014 that I took the game seriously. This was largely due to 60 day challenge, a goal that the marketing states will help me play guitar as long as I play it for 1 hour a day for 60 days.
It was my surprise that the first time I played Rocksmith, I didn’t feel like an idiot. As someone whose experience in picking up a guitar was just wail on the stings until something sounded right, making a shocked face, then forgetting what I did to think I played a specific song. Rocksmith was easy, the frets numbered out, the strings colour coordinated and the notes were on time, but slow enough that I could pick up speed and learn the actual chords, this was perfect for me to learn and it wasn’t long before I started to blast through some of my favourite songs.
By day 3, I got my first 100% on ‘Next Girl’ by The Black Keys. A simple song that only used single notes and sustains. Simple easy to do, and while showing off to the wife, notes disappeared, I was in Master mode and suddenly I was playing without the help of game.
Day 5, I cleared “Go with the Flow” by Queens of the Stone Age, a Rock Band favourite which I learned the Rhythm parts after a few plays. It was an easy song to learn. By Day 15, I was getting brave, I started moving on to harder songs in 2014 only to get my teeth kicked in. Songs like ‘The Trooper’ by Iron Maiden, ‘Satch Boogie’ by Joe Satriani, and the solo of ‘Freebird’ by Lynard Skynyrd warped my fingers and cramped my hand, making me realize I wasn’t ready for the masters just yet.
Slowly I was building up my confidence, taking on some of the DLC, listening to new songs that opened up my musical horizons. This was mostly thanks to the Rocksmith Recommends in Rocksmith 2014, these helped push me through songs I didn’t want to play again because they were “too hard”. Without this option, I’d probably would have less attempts at playing most of the harder songs.
I’d like to say by Day 50, I would have had half the list perfected, but this wasn’t the case. Next Girl, Go with the Flow, Blitzkrieg Bop, ‘Float On’ by Modest Mouse seemed to be all I was reaching for 100%, but I was focusing on other songs rather then attempting to learn a single one during one sitting.
By the 60 Day mark, I had played 230 distinct songs over a course of 595 times, with only three of those songs listed as mastered in Rocksmith 2014’s new stat generator. Still, the question was, did I know how to play guitar in 60 days? Answer: Kind of. I’m not good enough to decide that I need to form a band and start playing gigs, but my confidences in playing was definitely improved; I could pick up my guitar and jam well enough that I could hold my own in Session mode.
Now that the 60 days are over, I’ve learned so much more, and faster, then I could if I had someone just walking through the cords. Having a visual reference, a timer, and a progressive difficulty system to throw more at me the better I got has taught me a lot on how to play. Rocksmith is a tool that I recommend for everyone to pick up and learn a guitar, it really is the fastest way to learn.